Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Calgary's Big Bird has Chicks, I mean, Franchises

Photo from chickenonthewaycalgary.ca

I had my first piece run in Canadian Business magazine last week. Pretty cool. It was kind of weird to see it in print so quickly because CB is a biweekly pub. Normally, I'm waiting months from the time I file a story to when it publishes. Wrote about how the local fast-food haunt Chicken on the Way has started opening up franchises in a big way. Co-owner Russ Dunn told me they go through about 1700 pieces of chicken on an average day! That's roughly 33 million pieces of chicken since they opened in 1958. That's a lot of poulet!

In addition, this story gave me the chance to work with my former Alberta Venture editor, Mike McCullough, again. He also worked with me at AMPA as a board member before he moved back to Vancouver to take on his current CB gig. It was fantastic to work with an old friend again. Just like editors like to hang onto good writers, writers like to hang onto good editors!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Maui Eats: Pineapple Grill

Annabel colouring a pineapple at Pineapple Grill

I did a lot of, ahem, research on Maui's culinary scene when I was down on the island in September.

Here's my first installment on the Hip & Urban Girl's Guide. First up: The Pineapple Grill with Chef Issac Bancaco. My mouth waters at the thought.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Canadian Living Blog Up and Running!

Hi y'all!
Just an update that my Canadian Living Moms blog is up and running! It's been many months in the making so I hope you'll take the time to check it out and give me your thoughts. The focus of my blog is to talk about what's newsy in the world of parenting--new trends, breaking news, stuff that makes you go hmm...

So talk to me. What commercial recently made you weepy? What politician made you mad? What new product is ingenious? I wanna hear all about it!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ziplining in Maui--What a Rush!

Last month, we had our first big family vacation to one of my favourite places on earth--Maui. This mama decided she needed a taste of adventure on this trip so I left the babe with dad and went ziplining with Skyline Eco Adventures. It was amazing and too much fun. Check it out in my piece for BC Living.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Teeth-Brushing Woes

Annabel only recently turned two. And already we're having teeth-brushing battles. Some nights she won't even let us put the toothbrush in her mouth without tears and drama. Other nights she wants to do it herself, which is the equivalent to not brushing her teeth at all, but at least she'll readily put the toothbrush in her mouth and attempt to brush. Thankfully, she's at the point where she's mostly letting me brush her teeth, but I have to be quick about it. But I usually also give them a wipe with a clean cloth so I think we're covered. For now.

I expect the battle may continue for some time. Heck, I remember not wanting to brush my teeth when I was a kid. I see no reason why Annabel would feel otherwise. But I'm armed with some great tips to get her brushing that I discovered while researching for this Canadian Living piece about encouraging your kids to brush their teeth. It's part of the fantastic new Canadian Living Moms website, which I'm so pleased to be a part of, and for which I will soon begin blogging! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Kid-Friendly Vancouver

Getting Annabel to carry at least some of  her own luggage!
I can't believe another month has flown by. We've been busy travelling, and it sure is a whole new experience with a wee one in tow. Let's just say that travelling light and winging it have become less...um, feasible. But it's so much fun to take in the world through the eyes of a babe! This summer, we had a short visit to Richmond and Vancouver, and I flew with Annabel on my own for the first time. I'm happy to report we did splendidly! (And she also did amazingly well on our long-haul flights to Maui a couple of weeks ago; this kid is born to travel!)

It was our second visit to Van, and this time around, she was a bit older and more ready to explore. That meant even more fun! Have a boo at my picks for kid-friendly spots in Vancouver at BCLiving.ca.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Alberta Wellness Innovations

Alberta has been long known as a place made up of mavericks; pioneering folk who quite literally broke new ground to tackle challenges, both new and old. In the latest issue of Apple magazine, I got to explore some of Alberta's lesser known innovations, specifically, those in the realm of health and wellness. Some you may know of, but some I had no idea about! I mean, who knew Alberta was the birthplace of universal healthcare?! Have a read of my story in the Spring 2012 issue of Apple.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Eat, Drink (Water) and Be Merry!

I will heartily drink when the occasion calls for it, such as a toast or as seen here, "researching" a winery for a story.
But for the most part, I keep it virginal.

Most of my close friends and family know that I'm not a big drinker. In fact, I rarely drink at all. But it still comes as a shock to many others when I turn down a bevy at a social event. Sure, I'll have a few sips of wine paired with a fancy dinner out or the occasional cocktail, but for the most part, I prefer to stick to my virgin libations. Nothing against alcohol and those who enjoy it, but I'm just not a big fan of gettin' sloppy. Anyhoo, I wrote a little story about how being a non-drinker makes me a social pariah, which ran in last Friday's Swerve. Gan bei! (Chinese for "cheers"; it literally means "drink it all.")

Monday, August 6, 2012

BC Blueberries and RUSH Bring on the Good Eats

This past week was a good eating week. Scratch that. It was a great eating week! On Tuesday, despite a crazy hailstorm, I took part in a rooftop BBQ hosted by the BC Blueberry Council at Hotel Le Germain. CHARCUT Roast House chefs, Connie DeSousa and John Jackson, prepared a delicious menu, chockful of BC blueberries of course.

Then on Saturday, I tried out RUSH restaurant's delectable Taste of Canada menu in celebration of Food Day Canada.

Let's start with the blueberries. I must confess. I think I ate my weight in food that night. But there was so much deliciousness on hand, and when Connie or John asks if you want ribs or a burger, well the only correct answer is, "Hell yes." The ribs had this amazing sticky blueberry BBQ sauce, and the burger came with all sorts of delicious blueberry fixings. Yes, that's right, I ate both. Plus chicken. Plus spring rolls. Plus goat cheese tarts. Plus blueberry ice cream sandwiches. And cheesecake. But I digress. After all, it was research to taste everything that had been ingeniously infused with blueberries. 
John & Connie working the grill.
That's me to the right inhaling delicious blueberry-laced ribs.
(Blueberry food/event photos taken by PR whiz Kate Colley)

And did you know that blueberries are Canada's most exported fruit and BC is the number one highbush blueberry-growing region in the world? As I continued chowing down on BC blueberries all week long, I could easily see why. These little blue antioxidant power packs are just as good eaten as nature intended. 

Now onto RUSH. I'd never eaten there before, and I was more than pleased with my first time doing so. I had heard it could be a bit hoighty-toighty, but it wasn't. I mean, at the end of the night, exec chef Dave Bohati (who sports some major tats and apparently rolls to work on a skateboard) came and bid us farewell in his hoodie and jeans. There's nothing pretentious about that. 
The RUSH staff that prepared our incredible meal (Dave is 4th from the left; Andrew, 2nd from right)
And there wasn't anything pretentious about the food either. It was all about letting great regional ingredients shine--the whole point of Food Day Canada. My tastebuds were treated to wonderful local fare prepared beautifully such as Innisfail lamb, Broek Farm pork, Sparks Farm hen eggs, Brant Lake Wagyu beef and Sylvan Star gouda. We dined with Vintage Group Corporate Chef Andrew Stevens who is such a friendly, down-to-earth guy, and I'm sure a big reason why RUSH feels more approachable to the average diner than perhaps it did when it first opened.

Every course was scrumptious including the refreshing local harvest soup, served cold (which I'm not usually a fan of), succulent lamb with yummy house-made ricotta gnudi, and the clever crowd-pleasing Canadian breakfast dish that featured miniature-sized brekkie faves such as bacon, brioche toast, and quail's egg. Each was paired with a BC wine including an '08 vintage Mission Hill Occulus that wine director Tonya was actually petting, she was so fond of it. 
The amazing lamb and gnudi dish
The oh-so-cute Canadian Breakfast course

You too can enjoy the Taste of Canada menu at RUSH, available all through August.

Like I said, great eating week. As for my waistline, that's another story.

Monday, July 30, 2012

RIP Finances

Two months ago, we lost one of our favourite people, Harold Breidon, my husband's grandpa. Harold was one of those men who wore the guise of a curmudgeon--he had all sorts of pet peeves and got irritated whenever anyone didn't play by the rules--but anyone who knew him knew that he truly loved life and enjoyed it fully. He knew everyone; honestly, you couldn't walk down the street anywhere without him running into someone he knew or finding out that a complete stranger was somehow connected to him. Forget six degrees of Kevin Bacon. We're talking three degrees of Harold Breidon.

Harold, ever the storyteller!
Photo by Lisa Loeffler
What I loved most about Harold was how he could regale us with a story about virtually anything--the war, Quebec, buying bagels that morning. He could spin a tale out of anything. Plus, the man was thorough. If he was going to do something, he was going to do it right.

So when he passed, I thought sorting his finances and estate would be a fairly easy endeavour. Well, such things are never easy, what with the emotion and commotion that often surround them. Seems a mistake made on his land title has forced everything to go through probate. (NOTE: Make sure your title doesn't just have owners' names, but also says "as joint tenants".) It will all be sorted eventually with added cost and headache, but it's just another example of why it's a good idea to go through your finances/assets/documents and make sure your wishes are known BEFORE anything happens.

Have a read of my Calgary Herald article that addresses this very issue. My good friend Wayne shares the experience of sorting his dad's finances after he passed. Good advice straight from the heart.

We miss you Harold! xoxo

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Richmond Eats!

About two weeks ago, I hit up the city of Richmond, BC. I hadn't taken much time to explore Richmond before, typically just heading straight into Vancouver instead. Well not this time, and man, was my inner chowhound happy about that!

Spicy BBQ squid from the Summer Night Market. YUM.

I did a lot of eating on this trip, and it was all good. In particular, I ventured into the two night markets for the Asian street grub. Amid all the Hello Kitty gear and cell phone accessories, you'll find an Asian street food court with delights you need to try! Check it out in my piece for BC Living.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Vancouver with the babe

Illustration by Anne Smith

As I prepare for another trip to Vancity (and Richmond) with my wee one Annabel (this time solo-parenting on the flight, eek!), I remember how good it was the last time around, as our first family trip. And so I breathe. Check out what's family-friendly, in particular, baby-friendly, in this most liveable city in my latest piece for up! magazine.

Monday, June 18, 2012

All that Glitters

Two years have flown by since I visited the opening of the Sparkling Hill Resort in Vernon, BC.

And yet, I can remember it like yesterday. All the beautiful bling of this Swarovski palace has been seared into my brain. Heck, even the washroom signs were made up with Swarovski crystals! They also have a massive spa with a full menu of treatments including a cold sauna. Check it out in my story for the Hip & Urban Girl's Guide.

Time for this girl to make a return visit!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Clean water, please!

As someone who relies on a well for my drinking water, I'm very aware about how we treat our water and do everything to prevent contaminating the groundwater. Most folks just rely on the water treatment plants in their cities, which is to be expected. But that's also why many folks have little to no idea of how much water is contaminated on a daily basis around the world, often times from industrial settings.

Dr. Brent Wootton at the CAWT
Thankfully, there are groups like the Centre for Alternative Wastewater Treatment (CAWT) in Lindsay, Ontario, that are working specifically on tackling water treatment issues. In particular, they're coming up with innovative, environmentally-sound and cost-effective strategies. I had a chat with the centre's director and senior scientist, Dr. Brent Wootton, for the Canada Foundation for Innovation. See what's happening on the water front!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bragging about Bragg Creek

Got the chance to write about the little hamlet where I live, Bragg Creek, in the May/June issue of Where Calgary. Bragg has all sorts of wonderful offerings, and is located about 25 minutes west of Calgary. (I know it says 45 minutes in the story, but that's from downtown, and frankly, for slow drivers!) Five years in, I'm still really glad we made the move, especially when it's a nice summer day with the birds and deer frolicking in my yard, and you can see the mountains in the distance. Ahhhh. Come for a visit, will ya?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

BC Delights: Sea Salish Chocolate Bars

So I'm working away, and I start to have a severe sugar craving. There's no point in trying to ignore it. Such cravings never just go away on their own. That's when I remember the box of Salish Sea Chocolate Bars given to me by Tourism BC and its partners. They were in town last month and graciously hosted a bunch of us journos to a delicious meal at Model Milk restaurant. The menu showcased BC goods of course, and I enjoyed Dungeness Crab and Macadamia, BC Steelhead (wow!) and polished things off with a serving of Lemon and Okanagan Blueberry Pot au Creme. My mouth salivates at the memory.

It all makes me eager for my next trip to BC, happening most likely in July. In the meantime, these "Crow Bars" will have to tide me over. (I'm enjoying the play on words of the name though I'm not sure it's deliberate.) Check out the amazing artwork by Jim Hart on the packaging and the bar itself. You can see my craving could not wait until after the photo was taken...yum, yum, yum.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

San Francisco, How I Adore Thee

Last month, I took a trip down to California with San Francisco as my first stop. It'd been 10 years since I was last there and my circumstances had changed a lot. The first time I was a recent uni grad just itching to get away so I flew down to stay with my buddy Dan. At the time, he lived in the Mission, which sounds cool, and sort of is if you don't mind that it's also really ghetto. In fact, I still remember his strict instructions regarding taking the BART. "Make sure to get off at the second Mission stop. Fewer crackheads there." It was a week of taking in the sights (e.g., Alcatraz at night!), staying up late, frequenting bars and a lot of walking around and stumbling on uneven pavement.

Annabel at Alamo Square in front of the famous "Painted Ladies"
This time around, I went with my hubby and 18-month-old daughter Annabel. Needless to say, there were no late nights and no bars, but no crackheads either. We still did a lot of walking around, but this time with a stroller in tow. And my buddy Dan is now a married father of three so our reunion was hardly rowdy! Regardless, I still had a great time and this city by the bay remains one of my favourite places. Have a boo at my story in the Hip & Urban Girl's Guide.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Feeding Baby...Without Going Crazy

Annabel's first feeding; not sure if she's digging it!

I made the decision early on that I would at least try to make all of Annabel's baby food for nutritional and financial reasons. But that doesn't mean it was always easy especially since I'm not exactly Julia Child. Plus, Annabel is quickly becoming a bonafide Picky-Pants. Still, it was worth the effort. See my story in the May/June issue of City Palate, now on stands! (The story is on page 20, and be sure to use the zoom tool at the top of the screen.)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Baby Saver

Annabel, fresh outta the womb!
When I was pregnant, I continually fretted about the baby coming early. All any parent really wants is to have a healthy baby, and the earlier a baby arrives, the more health challenges tag along for the ride. A few of my friends have had preemie babies, and while the kids are all doing great now, thank goodness, I don't envy them the incredible stress and worry of having a tiny human, often struggling to survive. Lucky for me, Annabel arrived the day after her due date.

That's why I was so pleased I had the chance to interview Dr. Carolyn McGregor for a story for the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). Wow, talk about an inspiring lady! Her life's work will help to save the lives of many preterm babies with the amazing software she has developed in partnership with IBM. Check it on the CFI's newly redesigned site. (Actually, the site is not yet completely finalized so please forgive any hiccups you may find.)

Also, have a look-see at the IBM commercial inspired by McGregor's research.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Follow @setoc on Twitter

Image from tweepi.com

Yes, I have finally joined the Twitterverse! Please follow me @setoc and share your thoughts and opinions too! Love to hear from my peeps, I mean, Tweeps.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring has sprung! Sort of...

The first day of spring  has come and gone, but Old Man Winter is still clinging on. Despite the recent dump of snow we've had, I'm still keen to get Annabel outdoors. Going for a family walk with the pup is one of our favourite activities, and frankly, one of the main reasons we moved to the country. We love the fresh air, and it's fun pointing out all the trees and wildlife (or neighbourhood dogs) to Annabel.

Annabel out for her first sled ride.

Plus, there are so many other benefits to getting to your kids outside. Have a read in my latest Canadian Living story. And then, go outside!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

U of C Memories

Image from ucalgary.ca
The year was 1999. I was in my final year of communications studies at the University of Calgary when I had the good fortune of landing an internship with what was then called arch, the U of C's alumni magazine, with then-editor Charlene Rooke. The mag didn't have an official internship; I just emailed Charlene and asked her to put me to work. And thankfully, she did. I learned a lot about writing from Charlene--one of Canada's best magazine writers and editors. I'm still grateful to her to this day. It was during that time that I fully realized my passion for the written word and that I could actually make a living as a writer. Plus I loved seeing my name in print. Hundreds, if not thousands, of bylines later, it's still not old.

This is just one of many fond memories I have of my alma mater. So it felt good to write for arch's latest incarnation, U magazine, and profile a few fellow alumni: Adam Legge, Christine Klassen and Deborah Herringer Kiss, who are also carrying out their life's work here in Cowtown. Check out U's Winter 2012 issue.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Make-Believe: Not Just Child's Play

Do you remember playing make-believe as a child? I sure do. Some days I was a daring superhero; others a fairytale princess; still others a famous superstar. Little did I know then that all that play was in fact preparing me for my adult life. Okay, maybe the superstar days don't have that much application, but make-believe play is actually critical to developing important life skills. And they don't just stop at childhood. We continue to use make-believe as adults when we mentally play out various scenarios. I explore this topic for Canadian Living and it was quite an eye-opener. So when Annabel starts dressing up and playing with imaginary friends, I'll know that it's all good.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cook with the kids? Maybe I should learn to cook first...

I cannot believe it is already the New Year, and the second week no less! Time really does fly. Especially when I spent so much of the holidays eating, eating and more eating. I hope all of you also had wonderful holidays full of  cheer, friends, family and delectable goodies.

Now, in keeping with food, I'm in the midst of writing a piece about cooking for City Palate magazine. Yes, me. Laughable I know. I mean, I can make the basics and keep myself alive (good thing since Jason is working out of town this month), and I do have a couple of dishes that I make fairly well, but I am by no means a cook. Not even the lowly deep-frying, burger-slinging kind. I get all nervous and indecisive in the kitchen. And I just don't enjoy cooking. It's so much work! But I do love to eat (in case you didn't pick that up already), and I recognize that cooking my own meals is often less expensive and healthier than eating out.

I also realize that I should be a good mom and at least equip Annabel with some life skills to sustain herself. Given she's only a year old, I have a few years before this will really come into play. I only hope that will be enough time given my cooking track record, or lack thereof. Plus, as I discovered while researching a story for Canadian Living, I want to cook with her because it will teach her a lot more than just how to cook. Anyhoo, have a read while I try to concoct something edible for lunch.